Modern Dance BFA

The Modern Dance BFA Program integrates the rigors of intellectual exploration, technical discipline, and creative investigation in order to prepare dancers for the opportunities and challenges of the profession. The undergraduate curriculum is the foundation upon which the graduate program rests. The Modern Dance Program is a contemporary dance community which is distinguished by its sense of excellence, professionalism, humanism, and a proud commitment to a lively spirit of creative inquiry. Diversity is welcomed, respected and encouraged; creative and intellectual integrity is required; professional discipline is expected. The quality of faculty instruction, the rigors of the curriculum, the facilities available to the students, and the national/international reputation of the program all contribute to the high standards set by the department. As is noted in Dance Teacher Now, November 1997, our BFA undergraduate program is ranked third nationally and the graduate program is ranked first.

Coursework is designed to prepare dancers for a professional career in performance, choreography, and teaching. The BFA is a four-year degree program requiring completion of 79 semester credit hours of approved course work in the dance major, in addition to University general education requirements. A teaching major in dance with secondary school certification is also available.

All incoming undergraduate students (including both incoming freshman and transfer students) must audition for admission into the Modern Dance Program as well as comply with regular University admission procedures. Incoming students must be aware that the faculty of the Modern Dance Program presumes that majors have professional aspirations and the physical stamina, coordination and appetite to successfully meet the rigors of the majors program.

Students are evaluated each semester with regard to:

  1. Technical facility
  2. Choreographic/creative ability
  3. Academic performance
  4. Motivation and commitment


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Undergraduate Coursework Overview

Beginning in the fall semester of the freshman year, the BFA Program focuses on the students’ technical, creative, and theoretical development. This integrated development is achieved through the sequential progression of the entire undergraduate curriculum. In the beginning level studio work (workshop and technique courses), emphasis is placed on the acquisition of basic locomotor skills, movement sequencing, problem solving techniques, and improvisational abilities. During the freshman year, students are also introduced to body conditioning, somatic training, musical theory, and cultural dance forms. The intermediate level studio work focuses even more specifically on dance technique and conditioning, on individual/group performance, and on abstraction and thematic development in choreography. In the kinesiology courses, sophomore students pursue an in-depth scientific understanding of the mechanics and workings of the human body along with a clear and detailed understanding of the prevention and care of dance injuries. In the advanced level studio work, students continue to work on technique but focus more intensively on the creative process. During this time, students are more deeply involved in the production of their creative and/or scholarly research.

During their junior and senior years, students expand their critical thinking abilities by investigating dance within a contextual framework that incorporates history and cultural practice, philosophy, aesthetics, and musical theories. During this same time, students are given pedagogical experiences in the elementary and secondary public schools through the teaching methods courses (Children’s Dance and Secondary Teaching Methods). Our pedagogy supports the very basis of the BFA Program– improvisation, choreography, and performance with theoretical, pedagogical, and scientific support. Because of this integrated curriculum, the students experience and utilize interactive, relational, and process-oriented pedagogy. The program is both teacher-directed and student-centered.

Upon graduation from our undergraduate program, our students are fully prepared for the demands and expectations of the dance profession as future performers, choreographers, teachers, scholars, dance artists, and dance advocates.

Course Description & Requirements
For clarification on which requirements apply to you, please contact Academic Advising. 


Modern Dance Discipline

Modern Dance at the University of Utah has a long, distinguished history of excellence that unites the world of academia with the world of professional dance. Ranked as one of the top programs in the country, our alumni have gone on to work internationally and nationally as dancers, choreographers, artistic directors, teachers, videographers and administrators.

We are committed to creating an educational community in its finest form: one which invites diversity, embraces ambiguity, welcomes creative conflict, practices honesty, honors risk and experiences humility. Both our Bachelor and Master Degree programs offer a rigorous, in-depth inquiry into dance as a physical, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural practice.

Our Students

Many alumni are working with international, national and regional dance companies as dancers, choreographers, and artistic directors. Others are teachers and administrators in high schools, universities and professional studios.

Students from the University of Utah Modern Dance Program have been chosen to appear on many of the American College Dance Association’s (ACDA) National Gala Concerts. Our Program performers and choreographers are also consistently recognized for excellence at the regional festivals and have performed in Hong Kong, France, Panama, Berlin (Germany) and New York City.

This recognition is the result of an experienced, dedicated faculty, with standards of professional excellence, nurturing and challenging talented students through a rigorous and demanding program of study. In addition to daily technique classes and an extensive composition program, students receive training in dance kinesiology, dance history, philosophy, criticism, theater and video production, music for dance, teaching skills, dance repertory and improvisation. The undergraduate program leads to a BFA degree and an MFA degree is offered at the graduate level.

Performances & Presentations

An average of five fully produced performances and numerous informal presentations each year give dance majors substantial performance and choreographic opportunities. A variety of renowned guest artists are regularly invited to teach and choreograph for our dance majors. In addition, students and faculty are encouraged to collaborate with artists in other disciplines, fostering a rich creative environment. The Modern Dance Program’s Performing Dance Company provides a taste of the professional dance world within the university setting. Members are selected by audition twice a year and participate in a touring program that has taken them across the United States, to Britain, to Asia, and to Australia.

Dancers from all parts of the nation and from many foreign countries are drawn by the faculty’s philosophic commitment to the development of kinesthetic awareness, theoretical understanding, creative ability and aesthetic sensitivity in addition to technical accomplishment. It is the faculty’s conviction that such training not only prepares students to be vital and exciting artists but also creative human beings committed to the enrichment of society.